This sample essay on A Wagner Matinee Summary provides important aspects of the issue and arguments for and against as well as the needed facts. Read on this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
Vicki Glenn ENG 232 Mr. O September 26, 2011 “A Wagner Matinee” It has been said that, “Sacrificing your happiness for the happiness of the one you love is by far, the truest type of love. ” However, walking away from everything that makes you happy in life, in order for another to be happy should not be required of love.
Relationships should be built on mutual respect and consideration for one another. Although compromise in a relationship is a necessary component for its success, denying the core of who you are is not.
Speaking from experience, in the end, there will be nothing but resentment and identity-conflict. “A Wagner Matinee” by Willa Cather relates to my life in many ways as it exposes the results of sacrificing one’s true self and the disturbing consequences of physical hardship, emotional distress, and regret.
The story of Georgiana Carpenter was narrated by her nephew, Clark, and he relayed that his aunt was a highly educated music teacher living in Boston during the mid-1800s.
Continuing on he said, “One summer, while visiting in the little village among the Green Mountains where her ancestors had dwelt for generations, she had kindled the callow fancy of my uncle, Howard Carpenter, then an idle, shiftless boy of twenty-one” (1784). When Georgiana returned to Boston, Howard followed her, and as a result of this infatuation, she eloped with him.
Then against the advice and criticism of her friends and family, she followed him to the Nebraska frontier to take up a homestead since he had no money. Meanwhile, in the story of my life, I was a young student living in Norfolk, Virginia during the 1970s.
One summer, while visiting relatives in a little village near the middle of nowhere, I too “kindled the callow fancy of an idle, shiftless boy. ” However, when I returned home shiftless did not follow me; nevertheless, he called endlessly begging and pleading for me to return since he was no longer able to endure his life without me. Naturally, as a result of this infatuation I eloped with him. Then, against the advice and criticism of my friends and family, I followed him to his home, near the middle of nowhere to live with his parents since he had no money.
Georgiana left Boston as well as her friends, family, and most importantly her beloved music to endure a life of hardship on the Nebraska frontier. Life on the frontier was nothing like her previous life in the city where her job was teaching music. She worked long hours cooking, cleaning, mending and caring for her children. Clark told how his aunt would often stand until midnight at her ironing board while he recited his lessons. Her duties also included caring for the animals, milking cows and hauling water from a lagoon.
Years later, her nephew would notice the change in her physical appearance and most specifically in her hands, as he stated, “Poor hands! They had been stretched and twisted into mere tentacles to hold and lift and knead with—on one of them a thin, worn band that had once been a wedding ring” (1786). The author used this line to express that the years of hard work had taken a physical toll on he character. Because Georgiana had given up her job in the city and the music that she truly loved, in order to follow her husband, her life became one of extreme physical hardship.
Of course I too left my home in the city, family and friends to endure a life of physical hardship in the middle of nowhere. Life at my in-laws home, in the middle of nowhere, was nothing like my previous life in the city where my only job was going to school and listening to music with my friends. When I lived in the city, if I wanted food, I went to the grocery store and bought it; however, I quickly learned that the garden and various living creatures would be my new source of nutrition. The garden was a lot of hard work planting, weeding, hoeing, and picking vegetables in the blistering hot sun.
Next, came the washing, peeling, dicing, snapping or shucking until your fingers bled in order to freeze, can, or preserve the food for future use. The men were in charge of killing the various living creatures, but the women had to clean and prepare the meat. After that, I temporarily became a vegetarian, and I fell into bed each night exhausted from the day’s work and weak from lack of protein. Because I had given up my life in the city as a student, and my education in order to follow my husband, my life also became one of physical hardship.
The isolated location on the frontier and all of her responsibilities prevented Georgiana from participating in the life to which she had been accustomed, with the symphonies, concerts and sweet melodies that occupied her very being. Clark remembered, “She taught me my scales on a little parlor organ which her husband had bought her after fifteen years during which she had not so much as seen a musical instrument” (1784). For someone whose very life was about music, fifteen years was a long time without hearing a note or seeing an instrument. Clark also recalled that once while h was playing a song, “She came up to me and, putting her hands over my eyes, gently drew my head back upon her shoulder, saying tremulously, “Don’t love it so well, Clark, or it may be taken from you” (1786). Using the word tremulously, the author conveyed that Georgiana felt turmoil, anguish, and emotional suffering over the loss of her heart’s desire. The isolated location in the middle of nowhere and numerous responsibilities hindered me from participating in the life to which I had been accustomed, with the schools, books, libraries, and reading which occupied my very being.
In my new life, there was no time for books or reading, work and drudgery dominated my days. Conversely, my new husband was quite content hunting, fishing, and going out with the boys while I remained imprisoned at home with his mother. After a few months, I mentioned that I wanted to return to school in order to complete my education; however, shiftless was totally against the whole idea and wanted to hear no more on the subject. His mother completely agreed with him because it was her job to make sure that he always got everything that he wanted, and she was good at it.
A few weeks later I happily discovered that I was expecting my first child. This development temporarily ended any thoughts I had previously entertained about escape from my miserable existence in the middle of nowhere. Even though I was happy about the baby, I was saddened over the loss of my heart’s desire, which was to finish my education. Many years later Georgiana returned to Boston on business and her nephew surprised her by taking her to a Symphony only to discover the regret which filled her soul.
After witnessing her reaction to the music, Clark realized that it had broken a silence of thirty years for his aunt and tells that, “There came to me an overwhelming sense of the waste and wear we are so powerless to combat…” (1786). The author used these words to express that Georgiana was powerless, whether through love or obligation she choose to give up her passion in order to make a homestead with her husband on the frontier. Georgiana wept quietly and continuously throughout the concert, and when it was over she remained in her seat making no effort to leave.
When Clark spoke to his aunt, she burst into tears and sobbed pleadingly, “I don’t want to go, Clark, I don’t want to go! ” Georgiana realized how empty and void her life had been without her precious music. Clark understood her remorse as he remembered, “The tall naked house on the prairie; black and grim as a wooden fortress…” (1786). Thirty years of silence and longing while living in isolation had left Georgiana sobbing with the regret of all that she had missed.
As for me, the years passed swiftly by while raising children, working, waiting, and praying for the shiftless boy to grow into a responsible man, and then one day realizing that he never would. Looking back at my life, I grew resentful of all the wasted time spent trying to please my husband and his family while in reality none of them ever cared if I was happy. I had tried so hard for years to satisfy everyone until I had somehow forgotten about myself. After many heated arguments we were divorced, and I was free to go on with my life.
I continued to work and raise my children, and I was finally happy again. Living my life to please others had only led to misery and regret. As it turned out, Georgiana Carpenter and I had quite a lot in common. We both endured a life of physical hardship due to the fact that we both eloped with shiftless boys. We both suffered through years of mental anguish and emotional distress as a result of giving up our heart’s desires. Finally, we both realized that we regretted wasting the better part of our lives living solely for the benefit of another, and in the process lost our true selves.
I am not sure what ever became of Georgiana after she stopped crying, the story does not tell us. Margaret Deland, an American novelist once said, “Self-sacrifice which denies common sense is not a virtue. It’s a spiritual dissipation. ” As for myself, when the crying was finished I enrolled in a few classes, and I started searching for my identity which had been lost somewhere along the way. Works Cited Cather, Willa. “A Wagner Matinee. ” Paul Lauter et al. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Boston, MA: Patricia A. Coryell, 2004. 1783-1787.